Florida Slams CDC for Opioid Guidelines Naming ‘Potential’ Risk: ‘There is Nothing Potential About it’

November 22, 2022 Updated 10:36 AM ET

Opioids, (K-State Research and Extension).
Opioids, (K-State Research and Extension).

TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – The Florida Department of Health’s Deputy Secretary for Health, Dr. Kenneth A. Scheppke, lambasted the Biden Administration’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention for referring to the risks of opioids as treatment for pain as “potential.”

“Opioid use disorder is a chronic life-threatening disease that people contract through exposure to opioids, either illicit or prescribed by a physician,” he said. “The accompanying 2022 report even says: ‘Opioids can be essential medications for the management of pain; however, they carry considerable potential risk.'”

Scheppke cites a 2016 report that warns of “serious risks, including overdose and opioid use disorder.” In 2020, more than 90,000 Americans died of drug overdose, with 75% involving opioids. Florida has seen a 790% increase in fentanyl-related overdose since 2015.

“‘Potential’ risk? In the 2016 report, opioids were described as having ‘serious risks, including overdose and opioid use disorder,'” he went on. “There is nothing potential about it. While opioids can be necessary for severe conditions and end-of-life care, the general public shouldn’t be told they are ‘essential’ for pain management.”

The doctor pointed to Gov. Ron DeSantis-signed legislation that established Florida’s Coordinated Opioid Recovery, or CORE, Network to help victims of substance-use disorder, along with enhancing penalties for criminals selling the “poison.”

The CORE Network aims to “disrupt the opioid epidemic,” the governor’s office said in August.

“Biden’s border crisis has caused a massive infusion of drugs coming into our state,” DeSantis said. “This year we increased the penalties for individuals trafficking drugs in our state, and now we are giving Floridians the tools they need to break the substance abuse cycle. Substance abuse can affect any family at any time, so from education to law enforcement to treatment we are going to make sure that Floridians can take advantage of this new addiction recovery model.”

“The opioid crisis was caused by greed. The healthcare system was led to believe these medications were safe. Pharmaceutical companies fraudulently convinced governments of safety. Patients were overprescribed these substances, leading to devastating consequences,” Scheppke went on. “We are beginning to learn from our mistakes, reduce stigma, recognize this disorder as the brain disease it is and take steps toward a brighter future. Now isn’t the time for the CDC to relax its opioid recommendations.”

Scheppke was appointed to his post in December 2021. He previously served as the Department’s State Emergency Medical Services Medical Director, the Division of Emergency Management’s Chief Medical Officer, and the Medical Director for seven fire-rescue agencies.

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